World Without End, Amen

THE PROPHET AT THE MATINEE

In the final hour, just before the meteor shower
to end all meteor showers—as the wannabe hero
stands in his zippered flight jacket on the deck,
pledging with his crew to accomplish

the mission of saving Earth or at least America:
cut to wide-angle shot of an intergalactic
boulder bigger than Texas, one of a million
hurtling space turds determined to reduce

the world to rubble, while down in the dark
theater, the watchers hunker in stadium seats,
surround sound shaking the walls and floor,
suddenly unsure their crew of handsome astronauts

and lasers will do the trick. In the end it’s precision
missiles versus rocks and it’s clear the rocks will win:
shot of a sonic shock-wave, D.C. doused in flame,
the President and his cabinet watching this

apocalyptic brushfire rush across the continent
through the portholes of satellite TV monitors, safe
in their subterranean bunker. And they who’ve dropped
fifteen bucks on a ticket and popcorn combo

watch too, through the cinema’s wall-sized screen
New York and L.A. blown to smithereens, as some
invisible God hurls a skyful of giant pebbles
on their glittering cities. But of course it’s all

a dream; before final credits roll, the hero hits snooze
on his clock radio after hearing the President’s address:
some shift in universal winds averted the storm’s course
into deep space. The last shot shows champagne corks

popping all around the world—a ticker tape blizzard
in slo-mo, lovers embracing, Earthlings lifting
their glasses to incredible fate. And after
it’s over, the Prophet stands outside the theater

in his black suit watching the faces of his people
break into the stark fact of daylight and the parking lot,
their eyes adjusting to the glare, glad to see for now
the wide sky clear and the world still here.

–from American Prophet, by Robert Fanning (Marick Press, 2009)

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